A UK-based company called Effective Space says it has signed an agreement with an unidentified spacecraft operator to provide satellite servicing capabilities, the BBC reports.
Effective Space says its two servicing “Space Drones” will be built using manufacturing expertise in the UK and from across the rest of Europe.
The pair, which will each be sized about the same as a washing machine and weigh less than 400kg, are expected to launch on the same rocket sometime in 2020.
Once in orbit, they will separate and attach themselves to the two different geostationary telecommunications satellites that are almost out of fuel.
The drones, using their own propulsion systems, will then take over station-keeping duties 36,000km above the Earth, ensuring the satellites can continue to point in the right direction to transmit their signals.
On its website, Effective Space says it will launch two SPACE DRONE spacecraft with universal, non-intrusive docking systems in 2020.
“‘Phase One’ roll-out is providing life-extension services to operators of satellites in Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO), including station-keeping, relocation, deorbiting, orbit correction, inclination correction and ‘bringing into use’ (BIU),” the website states.
“Further phases will see platform adaptations to support the evolving low-earth-orbit (LEO) constellations, as well as active-debris-removal (ADR) and in-space explorations, mining and manufacturing logistics,” the website adds.